Did you ever heard photographers talking about “hard” and “soft” light and you didn’t quite understand? It’s kind of same when someone asks you What do you want to eat today, “meat” or “fish”? So when the photographer says he will use hard light in his photography, it’s just as you answering back “I want something with meat today”
Hard light is created by the size of your light. It can be strobes or simple strong sunlight and it can be shaped from the snoots, grids, honeycomb or simple barn doors in a studio.
What is an Optical Snoot
Optical Snoots are hard-light modifiers and they are used in many ways to light the subject or scene. Most obviously are seen in the theatre, when the main singer or character is illuminated with strong light. The main function of snoot light is to create a strong directional light source with extremely contrasty and sharp shadows.
In photography we use studio strobes to light our images and as I mention before, you have some light modifiers that can shape the light differently. But nothing can be so precise than optical snoots. Think of this modifier as the absolute opposite of softboxes. The reason why is so precise is that it uses a camera lens in front of it to control the light spill.
Understanding Optical Snoot
I personally use Pixapro® Optical snoot, but you have many options out there. In any way all of these modifiers have in common the ability to precisely control the hard light to exactly where you want it.
Hard light can be achieved without optical snoot. In this case, a photographer will usually reach out with regular snoot, grid or simple bear light. But if you use the optical snoot you will achieve even harder light. Below I take some sample of photos for you to see what I’m referring to. (We looking here at shadows)
Images above are both so called hard light, but you can see the difference between them in shadows.
Elements of Optical Snoot
Now that we understand what is the difference and what snoot we can do regarding shaping the light. Let’s have a look component of PixaPro Optical Snoot.
Usually, the optical snoot comes with a build-in lens. But from Pixapro® Optical snoot you need to have one spear lens or buy a new one.
In my case, I use my old Nikon 50 mm f/1.2 lens. You can use any of the lens out there, zoom or prime but I strongly recommend using a lens with the biggest aperture possible, so strobes will not use so much power.
Gobos are inserted between the optical snoot and before the lens, so it could create a sharp shape of the shadows out of the light. You can find different shapes of gobos HERE.
Note to above elements
When you buying from PixaPro, make sure to choose the correct attachment for your specific strobe (Elinchrom, Broncolor, Profoto etc.) and snoot comes only in EF mount, so meaning that if you are Nikon shooter like me you will need to buy as well Lens Mount Adapter or buy a canon lens.
Ideas to use Optical Snoot
I was super excited when I first get optical snoot. In my mind was all kind of possibilities of shaping the light in different ways. You can use as a main light or compliment light to the main one. Create different patterns on a background or even play with colours, and creativity still doesn’t stop there. Below I’m sharing with you some possibilities that I create in my home studio.
In these examples, I use my optical snoot as the main and only light. The light was just on the side of my camera and pointed straight to a model. (Super simple)
Here I use optical snoot as second light to create window patterns. The main light was bounced off the white V flat to create even light spread across the room.
You can see on the image below full set up. On the left main light bounced off the V flat and snoot on the image right. (Yes we have a glass of wine during the shoot) 🙂
Three light with adding colour gel
The last example is a bit more complicated. I use optical snoot for the background light and then for the model I use one main light and the rim light.
So as you can see below: Main light was placed above the model plus I bounced the light with reflector back in her face. Rim or strip light was placed behind the model on her right with strip box. Because my studio is so small I used black V flat on model left so that rim light on her right didn’t bounce from the white wall on her left. And finally, optical snoot was on camera left pointed in the white background. Ahhh and I almost forgot Raquel brought her hair dryer to make this portraits even more dynamic 🙂 it was placed next to the reflector.
- I like this light modifier but is not that easy to start with. It has a special input in the final look of images so for that, you need to think hard about how to use it and where.
- The light is not go-to kit so probably you will not use in every shoot, but when you do the final result can be stunning.
- When you working with a model you will need constantly watch on your subject position and pose. Shadow cast is super dark so the eyes or face will be completely dark (depends on what you trying to get as final look).
- Bear in mind that snoot has a lens attached on it, so for that be careful how you handling the snoot. As well if you don’t attach lens correctly, it can easily feel out form the snoot.
- If your light creating a lot of heat be carful that you don’t burn your self when you changing the gobo.
- I recommend using lights with build in led light.
- If you have any questions or comments please type below in the comment section and will try to answer by my best.
Big thanks to my partner and model Raquel Lopez Alvarez for all the help with modelling. You are the best!
STUDIO AND FASHION PHOTOGRAPHY – SERVICE
Jure provides a superior quality photographic shooting experience. Jure Ursic photography aim to bring delight, spontaneity, human connections and elegance to any projects. A recognizing eye, an obsession with good light and an appreciation for simplicity, defines him as photographer on fashion set. From hiring stylist and makeup artists to set, building all facets of the photo shoot will be attended to in the most intense interest and passion.
If you are looking for a professional fashion photographer or to rent optical snoot in United Arab Emirates, contact Jure Ursic Photography today to discuss your next project.